Just Emergencies Episode 1: Research During Global Health Emergencies

Just Emergencies E1 - Research

In today’s episode of ‘Just Emergencies’, Dr. Nayha Sethi (twitter: @nayhasethi) and I are taking a look at the ethics and justice of research during global health emergencies.

Listen to the episode

Dr. Sethi co-authored a Nuffield Council on Bioethics Background Paper on “Conducting research in the context of global health emergencies” and her article Research and Global Health Emergencies: On the essential role of best practice was published in Public Health Ethics in 2018. So she was just the person to talk to about this topic!

While we might think of doctors in lab coats and goggles trying desperately to develop a new vaccine or treatment, Dr. Sethi explains that research during global health emergencies can take many different forms. We also discuss some important aspects of ethical research such as consent and benefit-sharing, what’s gone wrong during previous global health emergency research, some broad-spectrum justice issues that can arise during internationally collaborative research, and what the term ‘helicopter research’ means (which, spoiler alert, does not have anything to do with helicopter parenting).

So to find out more, listen to Episode 1 of ‘Just Emergencies’: Research during Global Health Emergencies.

Acronyms mentioned in the episode

GM: Genetically modified

IP: Intellectual Property

RCTs: Randomised Control Trials

WHO: World Health Organisation

Links and Further Resources
On (research during) Global Health Emergencies

Ganguli-Mitra & Sethi (2016). Conducting research in the context of global health emergencies: identifying key ethical and governance issues, Nuffield Council on Bioethics.

Nuffield Council Working Group on Research in Global Health Emergencies.

Sethi (2018). Research and Global Health Emergencies: On the essential role of best practice. Public Health Ethics, 11(3).

WHO. IHR Procedures concerning public health emergencies of international concern (PHEIC).

On the 2013 – 2016 West African Ebola Outbreak

Boseley (2015). Experts criticise the WHO delay in sounding alarm over Ebola outbreak. The Guardian. 

Maxmen (2015). How the Fight Against Ebola Tested a Culture’s TraditionsNational Geographic. 

On the Havasupai Tribe Research 

Harmon (2010). Indian Tribe Wins Fight to Limit Research of Its DNAThe New York Times. 

Sterling (2011). Genetic Research among the Havasupai: A Cautionary Tale. AMA Journal of Ethics. 


Eyal (2011). Informed ConsentStanford Encylopedia of Philosophy. 


‘Just Emergencies’ is produced and edited by Rebecca Richards and made with funding from the Wellcome Trust.

Image by chuttersnap on Unsplash.

Our intro song is ‘The sun comes up, I come down’ by Silicon Transmitter.

Our outro song is ‘Surge and Swell’ by Pictures of the Floating World.

Both are available under an Attribution-Noncommerical-ShareAlike3.0 Creative Commons License from Free Music Archive.